In order to prevent the further spread of COVID-19, the Maryland General Assembly decided to adjourn a few weeks early, on March 18th. We’re thankful that our elected officials acted quickly to protect public health, while also accomplishing a tremendous amount in a short period of time. Thanks to their steadfastness, and your vocal advocacy, we were able to pass many important policies in the General Assembly.
The Certified Local Farm Enterprise Program (Senate Bill 985), sponsored by Delegate Lorig Charkoudian and Senator Katie Fry Hester, is a voluntary program that allows state institutions to contact local farms that meet certain environmental standards. This will help build relationships between farms and institutions, like hospitals and universities, in an effort to better support our local farming community. This effort will also support several existing aggregation and processing centers, available for use by farmers throughout the state.
A bill to enhance the Maryland Agricultural Cost Share program (Senate Bill 597), sponsored by Delegate Dana Stein and Senator Ron Young, provides farmers with grants to implement practices that prevent soil erosion and safeguard water quality. This bill will expand the program to incentivize a wider array of permanent agricultural practices that promote soil health and protect the Bay.
Chlorpyrifos is a toxic nerve agent pesticide proven to cause brain damage in children and known to harm the environment and wildlife. It is found in air and water—and people’s bodies. This legislation prohibits the aerial use of chlorpyrifos in Maryland, protecting farmworkers, wildlife, pollinators, and public health as a whole.
Eyes Toward Next Year: Healthy Soils Grant Program (HB1176)
The Healthy Soils Grant Program bill, sponsored by Delegate Stein, aimed to provide financial incentives to Maryland farmers who utilize a wide array of practices to build healthy soils. Practices can include things like management intensive grazing, keeping soils covered, adding soil biodiversity, among many others. Unfortunately this bill did not pass, but we hope to work on similar legislation next year.
Thank you for making these victories possible!